â€“ Henry Neufeld
[reprinted from March 2, 2010]
54But when they heard these things they became infuriated and ground their teeth against him. 55But being full of the Holy Spirit, he lifted up his eyes to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at Godâ€™s right hand. 56And he said, â€œLook! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at Godâ€™s right hand!â€ 57But they cried out with a loud voice and blocked their ears and swarmed at him together. 58And they threw him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses put their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59And they stoned Stephen as he called out and said, â€œLord Jesus, receive my spirit.â€ 60Then he fell to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, â€œLord, Donâ€™t hold this sin against them.â€ When he had said this, he died. Â Â Â Â Â Acts 7:54-60 (HN)
Stephen gives us an outline of the right way to die. Now many of you may be thinking that you donâ€™t particularly want to know how to die, and you donâ€™t plan to get there very soon. But all of us will get there sooner or later, and itâ€™s a good idea to know how to do it. But even more importantly, the way youâ€™re going to die will have something to do with the way you live.
One of the things Jesus came to rescue us from was the fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-18). Why donâ€™t we have to fear death? For precisely the same reason that we donâ€™t have to fear life. God is with us all the way!
So what does Steven show us about dying:
1. He died being Godâ€™s witness. The thing that made these folks angry was the testimony that Stephen was giving.
2. He died filled with the Holy Spirit. He was able to know what God wanted him to know and see what God wanted him to see, because the Holy Spirit filled him.
3. He died with his eyes heavenward, on Jesus. Think about it! Heâ€™s surrounded by people who want to kill him and he doesnâ€™t look at them, or seek ways to get away. Heâ€™s looking at Jesus!
4. He died forgiving those who hurt him. Like Jesus, it wasnâ€™t people who asked forgiveness, it was people who were in the process of hurting him that he forgave.
5. He died on his knees in prayer.
6. He died trusting his life to God.
Now go back through the list, and replace each â€œhe diedâ€ with â€œhe lived.â€ Do you see whatâ€™s going on?
The way we live is the way we will die. If God is with us, we have nothing to fear in either case.
For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come. 4:7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. 4:8 From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:6-8 (WEB)
Now the Day is Over written by Sabine Baring-Gould, sung by Jo Stafford & Gordon McRae